Spectacular Soelden

By Barbara Sanders

 

Reluctantly we extracted ourselves from the Alphof’s fluffy duvets and I slipped into the large bathtub to soak before getting dressed for breakfast. We ate quickly and made our way to the main tram in Soelden.

Soelden On Mountain RestaurantAlphof Soelden

We soon met our ski instructor, Karl, who had been assigned the task of taking us around for the day. Karl immediately became Karl the Kangaroo, the imaginary friend of Barker, the kid in the movie Parental Guidance.

We thought of Karl as your typical old-school Austrian ski pro. He skied with his feet locked tightly together and every now and again he looked over his shoulder to see if we were with him. Luckily, we all managed to keep up. He didn’t get that we were like deer in the headlights, stunned by the majestic beauty of the ski area.

I had been to Soelden once for a World Cup opener, which takes place on Soelden’s glacier each October. But I wasn’t prepared for the grand expanse of ski terrain around us. Most people talk about the glacier when speaking of Soelden; I thought the glacier was all there would be. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Yes, Soelden has a glacier, but it is so much more.
Fresh Pow To Play In

The day was near perfect, the clouds were lifting and the sun was coming out and we had 10 inches of fresh pow pow to play in.  Micah went from ripping in the pow to beatering multiple times. But you never know how good the powder really is ‘til you sample the buffet! We skied until our legs began to burn and then, luckily, it was time for lunch.  Karl dropped us off and headed for the bar, happy to have a short break from us. We ordered speck und brot, with a grainy senf (mustard). The kids and Lori hydrated while I had a gluwein—I had to, right?

Ready to ski some more, we found Karl and set out. We asked him to take us up the sexy, modern Gailaschkogel Tram to visit the new Bar Ice Q. The scenery from there is magnificent; all I could manage to say was “Wow!” (So much for literary eloquence!) But then I read the German writing on the tram that said, “Wow, alles sprachen gleich!” and I felt better. (Translation: everyone says “Wow”!)

We arrived at the top and it felt like we’d entered the belly of a whale. The lift mechanisms combined with the architecture of the top station made a perfect setting for a sci-fi flick. It was sexy and other-worldly, both at the same time.

SoeldenBarb Ice Q Soelden

We stepped outside to see the new Bar Ice Q restaurant. It is made of mirrored glass; you hike up and across the top of the tram to enter. Bar Ice Q opened this year and it is one of the most spectacular on-mountain restaurants I’ve seen, both inside and out. The views can seriously detract you from the beautifully-prepared cuisine. It’s open daily for lunch; every Wednesday evening Bar Ice Q hosts a dinner as well. Unfortunately we weren’t to be in Soelden on a Wednesday, but take my advice: If you’re headed for Soelden next season, arrange a Wednesday evening dinner at Bar Ice Q the second you book your accommodation!

 

A Panorama of Peaks

We skied back down to the base of the tram and played on the swings attached to big letters spelling out ALMZEIT. We said our auf wiedersehens to Karl and popped into a mid-mountain restaurant. How can you call your day complete without a late-afternoon, on-mountain strudel stop?

 

We skied the down with a panorama of huge peaks popping in and out of the clouds. We crossed bridges and skied by charming on-mountain huts—it was as if we were inside a magical snow globe.

Soelden Top of the WorldMicah ripping Soelden

 

We made it back to the hotel and the boys went to play ping pong and swim while I headed for the spa. Once again it was one of those typical Euro naked spas, but I was ready this time. I can do this, right? Naked, I would be just like the locals, right?

 

I peeled off my swimsuit and confidently walked into the steam sauna as if it was the most normal thing in the world. I’m not certain how many people saw through me to spot my Americanness, but when in Rome…!

 

Inside the spa I must have sweated off at least a pound of strudel and schnitzel, so I showered, dressed, and went to find the team to stroll the main drag of Soelden—I needed some retail therapy. Since the season goes so long in Soelden, things were not yet on sale; we did more looking than buying, but it was fun nevertheless.

 

We headed back to the Alphof for dinner and bed. Tomorrow we’d be departing for Obergurgl.

to check out a resort just up the valley. www.alphofsoelden.com and www.soelden.com

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